Devil Children

One of Japan's many relaxed legal restrictions.
Eleven years old and packing heat.

   Some people might say that a game based on summoning and enslaving demonic creatures isn't likely to be a success with small children. Well, those people would be wrong! Atlus' Devil Children, released for Game Boy Color in 2000, combined elements of the hard-edged Shin Megami Tensei (Megaten) franchise - best known in the U.S. for the Persona games - with cute and cuddly Pokémania. The end result somehow managed to work; a hard-edged, stylish demon summoning game, tempered with monster-collecting cuteness. Both the Black Book and Red Book versions were a success, and the series even spawned a popular children's anime series.

   In a series of synergistic movements we can scarcely follow, the Devil Children sreies is coming to the PSone. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children: Black Book / Red Book combines both Game Boy Color titles, adds some enhancements, then fits the entire thing onto into a single PlayStation disc, giving gamers an easy way to experience both sides of the whole adventure.

 This definitely was a Game Boy game.
Grid-based goodness.

   This is a serious boon for players, as the Red and Black Book versions of the game are far more distinct than most color variations. The two games each feature an entirely different main character and several unique sidequests. The Black Book stars Kai Setsuna, a cool, collected boy whose younger brother was abducted by the monsters. Setsuna's sidekick is Cool, a one-headed Cerberus who is familiar with the demon realm. The Red Book stars Kaname Mirai, a more emotional girl whose father disappeared not long ago. Her companion demon is an adorable little griffin, Veil. Both Setsuna and Mirai are fifth graders at Harajuku Elementary School - this explains their precocious fashion sense. When their school is invaded by demons from the other world, the two decide to fight back. The Red and Black Book versions also feature entirely distinct sets of monsters; demons found in one version are never found in the other.

He's on the side that's got butter on it, he is.
Whose side is he on?

   As in most Megaten games, players can still negotiate with demons before battle to win them over to their side, then use these demons in later encounters. The collecting element, naturally, is stronger here than in other Megaten games. In all, there are over 270 demons available to collect and trade - 250 from the Game Boy Color games, and 20 or more new demons created just for the PlayStation version. Demons can be one of seven elemental types (fire, water, gold, wooden, earth, sun, or moon) and come from one of nine different demon families. Two demons can also be merged to form an entirely new creature.

   The graphics and music have been significantly enhanced for the PlayStation port, but the Game Boy's simplistic field map layouts remain unchanged. An opening anime movie and several event movies have been added; though these movies are original to the game, the animators and voice talent is the same as the spin-off anime series. Also new to the PlayStation version is a Battle Net where players can test their demons' strength. Success in the Battle Net can yield new, rare demons.

   Atlus has yet to announce a release date for the PlayStation version of Devil Children, but it should arrive well before the end of the year. Though odds of a U.S. release may seem slim, the more marketable nature and younger target audience might give this Shin Megami Tensei game a chance where others have failed.

Preview by Andrew Vestal, GIA.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children: Black Book / Red Book
Developer Atlus
Publisher Atlus
Genre Traditional RPG
Medium CD-ROM (1)
Platform Sony PlayStation
Release Date  2002
6 screenshots / 2 field screenshots
4 character designs / 18 devil designs
Japanese box art